Outcome of Vetboard consultation on 2023-2024 regulatory fees
In February 2023, the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria ("the Vetboard") held a consultation with the veterinary profession about the following proposed changes to the Vetboard's fee structure:
- an increase of 15% for most regulatory fees including fees payable for registration and renewal of registration
- new fees to recover the cost of processing applications to vary registration conditions convert general registration to non-practising registration, and refund registration fees
- a reduced administration fee for non-practising veterinary practitioners converting back to general registration
- an increased administration fee for registration applications involving complex issues
- revocation of the Board’s policy to waive general registration fees of “honorary” veterinary practitioners who have practised for 50 years or more. While honorary practitioners holding general registration will be required to pay full general registration fees, the fees of honorary practitioners who hold non-practising registration will continue to be waived.
The Vetboard received 500 submissions from veterinary practitioners and veterinary students about the proposed changes, equivalent to approximately 12% of the Victorian profession (currently 4,000 registered veterinarians).
We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to every person who participated and shared their views and opinions during the consultation. Your responses have provided us with valuable insight into the challenges currently affecting the profession, how the Vetboard is perceived as the regulator of the profession, and how we could improve areas of our service delivery.
Responses to the fee consultation are summarised in a report which can be downloaded from the link below:
VETBOARD FEE CONSULTATION REPORT
Decision on the Vetboard's fee structure
The members of the Board ("the Board") carefully considered each response received through the consultation process. In addition to the information received via the consultation, they considered the Vetboard's legislative duties and functions and their fiduciary duties as directors of the organisation. Other factors informing the Board's decision on the fee structure included:
- the importance of ensuring the Vetboard's financial viability for effective regulation of the veterinary profession
- the deterioration of the Vetboard's financial health and erosion of its financial reserves over the past 3 years, due to several years of operating deficits
- the significant increase in the number (82 in FY 2019; 162 in FY 2022), complexity and legal cost of complaints, with an average complaint costing over $10,000
- the "moral hazard" presented by a regulator not being able to regulate or instigate regulatory action in complex matters due to the expense of legal action
- the Vetboard's compliance overhead being significantly greater (as a percentage of revenue) than that of other Victorian regulators, because it is subject to the full cost of compliance while its revenue is a fraction of larger state regulators
- recognition that a regulator cannot expect the taxpayer to subsidise regulation of the profession
- demographic and economic changes impacting the veterinary profession, and
- the need to invest in systems and processes that support an approach to regulation that is proactive, data-driven and effective, and enables the Vetboard and Victorian Government to be well prepared to respond to Emergency Animal Diseases.
For these reasons, while recognising that the 15% increase in most fees and revocation of free honorary general registration is not supported by all members of the profession, the Board decided to implement the changes to the Vetboard's fee structure as originally proposed. Registration and other regulatory fees for 2023-2024 can be viewed at www.vetboard.vic.gov.au > Vets > Vetboard regulatory fees.
We have listened and will be seeking further input from the profession
The consultation highlighted a range of issues about the way your Veterinary Board works with the profession. To help us further explore those issues and develop the Vetboard's next strategic plan, we will be running a series of online and in-person workshops with the profession between July and September 2023. The workshops will be our opportunity to gain insights from the profession and other stakeholders into how we can be a better regulator for the Victorian veterinary profession and the communities served by our profession.
Actions the Vetboard is already committed to undertaking include:
- continuing to manage the Vetboard's costs to ensure we deliver effective and efficient regulation
- continuing to investigate alternative potentially less expensive approaches which deliver regulatory outcomes with lower regulatory friction and less expense to veterinary practitioners, complainants and the Vetboard
- improving the education of complainants and veterinary practitioners to help complainants navigate complaint pathways
- addressing the issue of complaints that may be lacking in substance via education and clarification of complaint pathways
- effectively communicating the Vetboard's work to the communities we serve.
Registration renewal for 2023-2024
Veterinary practitioners registered in Victoria will be able to apply to renew their general, non-practising or specialist registration for the 2023-2024 year from 1 June 2023.
Renewal launch messages will be sent to the email address and mobile number linked to your account. You will then be able to sign into your account, complete your compliance declaration and pay applicable registration fees.
For more information about preparing for renewal, including what to do if you have changed your legal name, left Victoria, retired from practice or temporarily stopped practising, see www.vetboard.vic.gov.au > Vets > Registration renewal.
If you wish to discuss your specific circumstances for the next registration year, please email the Vetboard as soon as possible, preferably before 5 June 2023.
Dr John Harte
Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria